Celebrity comics are comics based on the fame and popularity of a celebrity. They are a byproduct of merchandising around a certain media star or franchise and have existed since the mass media and comics came into existence in the 19th century. Celebrity comics are usually not held in high esteem by critics, because of their purely commercial nature. They are solely created to capitalize on media trends and therefore published so quick and cheaply that drawings and narratives tend to be of very low quality.
Celebrity comics are usually written and drawn for commercial purposes. Publishers try to cash in on the fame of a well known radio, TV, films star or series by launching a comic book or an entire comic book series about these media stars. Comics about sports champions or theatrical actors fall in the same category. The line of thought behind these works is that the audience will be more likely to buy something they already recognize from theatre, film, radio or TV than a brand new series about an original creation.
Despite the commercial potential few of these celebrity comics last long. Their sales are usually based on the amount of attention a certain celebrity receives during a certain period. If the media craze or fad dies down the comic version usually fizzles out as well. Another reason why many of these comics fail in the long run has to do with the fact that companies usually pass both the writing and drawing to less skilled artists, many of which don't have much experience in their profession. Apart from that the artists in question are put under pressure of a TV channel, company or the media star himself to follow their own demands and expectations as much as possible.
Celebrity comics should not be confused with satirical comics or political comics, which lampoon celebrities. While these can sometimes be made to play-off the fame of a celebrity, they usually tend to be less respectful towards the media stars in question and are seldom made with their own participation.
Despite the fact that celebrity comics are considered pure pulp some people have interest in these titles as a mere nostalgic or historical curiosity, of which they enjoy the campiness.
Celebrity comics have existed since the late 19th century. The earliest example was the magazine Dan Leno's Comic Journal (1898), based on the popularity of British music hall comedian Dan Leno. The paper was primarily aimed at young adults and featured a fictional version of Leno. He personally wrote most of the gags and stories, while Tom Browne contributed many of the illustrations. The comedian retained editorial control of the paper, deciding which items to omit. After a run of nearly two years the novelty wore off, and Leno lost interest. The paper shut down on December 2, 1899. Another early example was a comic strip drawn between 1909 and 1913 about the local village eccentric Robert W. Patten by John Hager, which was published in the Seattle Daily Times. When Hollywood started making slapstick films many comics series were made about popular film comedians. E.C. Segar's Charlie Chaplin's Comedy Capers is perhaps the most famous example and ran for a solid two years, between 1916 and 1918. Between the 1920s and early 1960s the British magazines Radio Fun and Film Fun were even completely based around comics about radio and film celebrities. When television became popular in the 1950s and 1960s it opened the door for a whole stream of comics based on popular TV shows and stars. In every country with a comics industry examples of celebrity comics can be found.
A subgenre are celebrity animated cartoon series, based on the popularity of a well known musical artist (Hammerman), band (The Beatles, The Jackson 5ive, The Osmonds, New Kids on the Block), film stars (The Abbott and Costello Cartoon Show, Jackie Chan Adventures, Amigo and Friends, Laurel and Hardy, Mary-Kate and Ashley in Action, The New Three Stooges,...), TV star (The Gary Coleman Show, Partridge Family 2200 A.D., Mr. T, Laverne & Shirley in the Army, The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang) and/or sports champion (Harlem Globetrotters, I Am the Greatest: The Adventures of Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson Mysteries, Ronaldinho Gaucho's Team,...).Albert en Co (since 2013 Filip van België), based on the Belgian Royal Family, written and drawn by Charel Cambré. The series has a mild satirical tone.
Les Diables Rouges, a humoristic sports comic (2013-2014) about the Belgian national association football team by André Lebrun (writing) and Philippe Bercovici (drawings).
En Daarmee Basta!, a humor comic (2006–2009), based on the children's TV series En Daarmee Basta!, written by Tom Bouden and drawn by Wim Swerts and Vanas.
Les Fabuleus Exploits d'Eddy Merckx, a sports comic (1973) about cyclist Eddy Merckx, written by Yves Duval and Christian Lippens.
Familie Backeljau, a humor comic based on the popular TV sitcom De Familie Backeljau, drawn by Luc Morjaeu.
F.C. De Kampioenen, a humor comic (1996) based on the popular TV sitcom FC De Kampioenen, written and drawn by Hector Leemans. It's currently one of the most successful Flemish comics series, still selling strong even though the series itself came to and end in 2011.
Flikken, an action comic (2010) based on the TV police series Flikken, written by Zaki Dewaele and drawn by Michaël Vincent.
Gaston en Leo, a humor comic (1985) based on the comedy duo Gaston en Leo, written and drawn by Jeff Broeckx.
Geschipper Naast Mathilde, a humor comic (1955) based on the TV sitcom Schipper naast Mathilde, written and drawn by Willy Vandersteen.
De Geverniste Vernepelingskes, a satirical gag-a-day comic (1997) in which the main characters are comedian Urbanus and comics artist Jan Bosschaert, who consequently also write and draw the gags. The series also features numerous cameos of Flemish celebrities.
Get Ready!, a humor adventure comic based on the popular boys band Get Ready!, written by Danny Roelens, drawn by Patriek Roelens.
Le Grand Jojo, a humor comic (2014) based on the Walloon singer and comedian Le Grand Jojo by André Lebrun (writing) and Philippe Bercovici (drawings).
Jacques Vermeire, a humor adventure comic based on the popular comedian Jacques Vermeire, written and drawn by Geert Kinnaert.
John Massis, a humor comic about acrobat John Massis, written and drawn by Pirana, who was a close friend of his.
Jommeke in Bobbejaanland, a 1979 one-shot comic book featuring a cross-over between the comics character Jommeke and popular singer and theme park owner Bobbejaan Schoepen.
De avonturen van K3, a humor adventure comic (2000–...) based on the popular girls group K3, written by Jan Ruysbergh, drawn by Patriek Roelens and later Charel Cambré.
Kabouter Plop, a humor comic based on the popular children's TV show Kabouter Plop, written and drawn by Jean-Pol.
Katastroof, a humor comic about the local Antwerp band Katastroof written by Tom Metdepenningen, a member of the group.
Kim, a humor adventure comic (2004) about tennis player Kim Clijsters, written by Hector Leemans and drawn by Wim Swerts and Vanas.
Het Manneke, a gag-a-day comic (1962) about the popular TV sketch show Het Manneke, written by the actor himself, Jef Cassiers, and drawn by PIL and later Marc Payot.
Margriet Hermans, a humor comic (1993) about singer and TV presenter Margriet Hermans, written by Peter Verbelen and drawn by Erik Vancoillie.
Mega Mindy, a humor adventure comic (2007–2009) based on the popular children's TV show Mega Mindy, drawn by Charel Cambré.
Merlina, an adventure comic (1986) based on the popular children's TV show Merlina, written by Dick Durver (pseudonym for singer and Vlaams Belang politician Jef Elbers, who was also the TV series' script writer) and drawn by Danny De Haes.
M-Kids, a humor adventure comic (2002–2004) based on the girl group M-Kids, written by Jan Ruysbergh, drawn by Luc Morjaeu.
De Pfaffs, a humor adventure comic (2003–2004) based on the reality TV series De Pfaffs, written by Ronald Grossey and drawn by Charel Cambré.
De Planckaerts, a humor comic (2003) based on the reality TV series De Planckaerts about former cyclist Eddy Planckaert and his family.
Samson en Gert, a humor adventure comic (1993–2005) based on the children's TV show Samson en Gert, drawn and written by Wim Swerts and Jean-Pol.
Spring!, a humor adventure comic (2004–2007) based on the children's TV show Spring, written by Luc Morjaeu and drawn by Charel Cambré.
De Strangers, a humor comic (1984) about the Flemish comedic band De Strangers, written by Patrick Vermeir, drawn by Dirk Stallaert.
De avonturen van Tommeke, a humor comic (2007–2008) based on the cyclist Tom Boonen, written by Ivan Claeys and drawn by Patrick Van Oppen.
Urbanus, a humor comic (1982) based on the popular comedian Urbanus, written by himself and drawn by Willy Linthout. It has been in continuous syndication since 1982, making it the longest-running and best-selling celebrity comic of Flanders.
Van Rossem, a semi-satirical comic (1991–1992) based on the politician and economist Jean-Pierre Van Rossem who also wrote the scripts. The drawings were made by Erik Meynen.
Vertongen & Co, a humor comic (2011), based on the children's TV show Vertongen & Co, written by Hec Leemans, drawn by Luc Van Asten and Wim Swerts.
W817, a humor comic (2003–2011) based on the children's TV show W817, written by Hec Leemans and Tom Bouden and drawn by Luc Van Asten and Wim Swerts.
Wendy Van Wanten, a humor comic about the pin-up model Wendy Van Wanten (1992), written by Tony Beirens and drawn by Yurg.
X!NK, an adventure comic (2004–2006) based on the music band X!nk, written and drawn by Mario Boon.
Zappy Max, a humor comic (1959–1960), based on the popular radio presenter Zappy Max, written and drawn by Maurice Tillieux.
Zornik, a humor comic (2005) about the Belgian rock band Zornik, written by Mario Boon and drawn by Freek van Haagen.
Ronaldinho Gaucho, a sports comic (2006) based on association football player Ronaldinho Gaucho, drawn by Mauricio de Sousa (of Monica's Gang fame). The comic also inspired an animated TV series, Ronaldinho Gaucho's Team (2011).
Sergio Mallandro, a humor comic based on the popularity of the Brazilian TV host Sergio Mallandro, drawn by Paulo Borges.
Os Trapalhões, a humor comic based on the popularity of the Brazilian comedy team Os Trapalhões, drawn by Paulo Borges.
Fous Comme Brac, a 1950s humor comic based on the radio show Fous Comme Brac, drawn by Galiana.
Les Cinq Sous de Lavarède, a 1939 text comic based on the film Les Cinq Sous de Lavarède (1938) starring Fernandel. The comic was written and drawn by Pellos.
Fais Pas Ci, Fais Pas Ça, a 2012 humor comic based on the TV show Fais pas ci, fais pas ça, drawn by Philippe Bercovici and written by Dal.
Signé Furax, based on the popular radio play Signé Furax, drawn by Henry Blanc.
Cantinflas, a photo comic (1939) about the iconic Mexican comedian Cantinflas, made by Héctor Daniel Falcón.
Santo, el Enmascarado de Plata, a superhero comic (1952) based on the legendary Mexican wrestler El Santo, written by José Guadalupe Cruz.
The NetherlandsAbsolutLee, based on the popular singer Lee Towers, written and drawn by Rob Derks. It was eventually cancelled because Towers had not given any permission for the work.
André van Duin, a gag-a-day comic (1975) about the famous comedian André van Duin, scripted by himself and drawn by Fred Julsing. In the 1980s a similar humor comic was made, but with a different artist: Toon van Driel.
Bakken aan de bar, a gag-a-day comic strip (1971) based on the popularity of the Dutch satirical shows De Fred Haché Show and Barend is weer bezig. It was drawn by the main actors themselves: Harry Touw and IJf Blokker.
Bart de Graaff, a humor comic based on Dutch TV presenter Bart de Graaff, written and drawn by Rudi Jonker.
Bassie en Adriaan, a children's humor-and-adventure comic (1983–1985) based on the popular children's duo Bassie en Adriaan, written by Aad van Toor (who plays Adriaan) and drawn by Frans Verschoor.
Nick & Simon, a humor comic based on the singing duo Nick & Simon, drawn by Comicup Studio and written by Jos Beekman, Frank Jonker, Thom Roep, Bas Schuddeboom and Ruud Straatman.
Ome Keesje, a humor comic based on the radio character Kees Mulder from the popular radio play De Familie Mulder, written by the actor himself, Willem van Cappellen, and drawn by Henk Zwart.
Oppassen!!!, a humor comic (1997) based on the popular Dutch comedy series Oppassen!, written and drawn by Bert Witte. A notable aspect about this comic was that all the characters were anthropomorphized as animals.
Piet Paulusma, based on the popular TV weather man, written and drawn by Piet Voordes.
Pipo de Clown, based on the popular TV children's show Pipo de Clown, written by Wim Meuldijk and drawn by Jan Van der Voo.
Radio Bergeijk, based on the popular radio show Radio Bergeijk, written and drawn by Jeroen de Leijer.
Sjef van Oekel, a humor comic based on the comedic character played by Dolf Brouwers, written by his script writer Wim T. Schippers and drawn by Theo van den Boogaard. The comic was notable for running more than two decades, long after the character had disappeared from television, and was even popular in English and French translations, despite the fact that the character was unknown there. But in the early 1990s Brouwers sued, causing the series to tone down its vulgar comedy and give him part of its financial share.
TiTa Tovenaar, based on the popular children's TV series TiTa Tovenaar, written and drawn by Frans Piët, who is most famous as the creator of Sjors en Sjimmie.
Bootsie and Snudge, a humor comic based on the TV sitcom Bootsie and Snudge, drawn by Bill Titcombe.
Britain's Brightest Boy (1955–1961), a gag-a-day comic about comedian Benny Hill, drawn and written by Reg Parlett.
Charlie Chaplin, a humor comic (1914), based on film comedian Charlie Chaplin, drawn by Bertie Brown. and later Freddie Adkins. Other artists who have drawn similar gag-a-day comics about Chaplin are Freddie Crompton in 1916 (who also made one about Chaplin's brother Syd Chaplin), Wally Robertson and Reg Parlett in 1932.
Chester Conklin, The Cheerful Chappie, a humor comic (1932) based on film comedian Chester Conklin, drawn by Harry Parlett.
The Comical Capers of Billie Reeves, the Scream of the Screen (1916), a humor comic about musical hall star and film comedian Billie Reeves, written and drawn by Louis Briault.
Crossroads, a daily drama comic (1972-1973), based on the soap opera Crossroads, written and drawn by Alfred Mazure.
Dad's Army, a 1973 humor comic based on the TV sitcom Dad's Army, drawn by Bill Titcombe.
Dan Leno's Journal, a magazine (1898–1899) based on the popularity of music hall comedian Dan Leno, who also wrote the gags. The drawings were made by Tom Browne.
The Dickie Henderson Family, a humor comic based on the popular TV comedian Dickie Henderson, drawn by Bill Titcombe.
Film Fun, an entire magazine (1920–1962) featuring comics about film actors and comedians.
Harry Hill's Real Life Adventures in TV Land, a humor comic (2010–2011) about comedian Harry Hill, written by Sean Baldwin, Duncan Scott and drawn by Nigel Parkinson
The Larkins, a gag-a-day comic (1960) based on the popular sitcom The Larkins, written and drawn by Alfred Mazure.
Radio Fun, an entire magazine (1938–1961) featuring comics about radio actors and comedians.
Robbie Rebel, a humor comic (2002–2008) based on pop singer Robbie Williams, drawn by Ken H. Harrison.
The Telegoons, a humor comic (1963-1964) based on the TV puppet series The Telegoons, drawn by Bill Titcombe.
Watch Out Beagle's About, a humor comic (1991), based on the TV show Beadle's About starring an anthropomorphic version of host Jeremy Beadle. It was drawn by Anthony Hutchings.
The A-Team; an action-adventure comic (1984) created by Frank Lupo and Stephen J. Cannell, based on the TV series The A-Team.
The Andy Griffith Show, a humor comic (1962) based on the popular TV sitcom The Andy Griffith Show, drawn by Henry Scarpelli.
The Adventures of Bob Hope, a humor comic (1950–1968) about comedian Bob Hope, written by Arnold Drake, drawn by Neal Adams, Owen Fitzgerald and Bob Oksner.
The Beverly Hillbillies, a humor comic (1961) based on the popular TV sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies, drawn by Henry Scarpelli.
Bewitched, a humor comic (1964) based on the popular TV sitcom Bewitched, drawn by Henry Scarpelli.
Bruce Lee, an action comic (1994) based on kung fu star Bruce Lee, written by Mike Baron and drawn by Val Mayerik.
Charlie Chaplin's Comedy Capers, a gag-a-day comic (1915–1917), based on film comedian Charlie Chaplin, drawn by Stuart Carothers and later Elzie C. Segar.
The Adventures of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, a humor comic (1952–1957) about the comedy duo Martin & Lewis, drawn by Neal Adams and Bob Oksner.
Dick Clark's Rock and Roll and Remember, a 1995 Sunday comic based on the radio show Dick Clark's Rock, Roll & Remember starring Dick Clark, drawn by Don Sherwood and written by Fred Bronson.
Get Smart, a humor comic (1964) based on the popular TV sitcom Get Smart, drawn by Henry Scarpelli.
Hogan's Heroes, a humor comic (1965) based on the popular TV sitcom Hogan's Heroes, drawn by Henry Scarpelli.
Hopalong Cassidy (1950-1956), a western comic about the eponymous film and radio serials Hopalong Cassidy, drawn by Dan Spiegle.
I Love Lucy, a humor comic (1952–1955), based on the popular TV sitcom I Love Lucy, written by Lawrence Nadel and drawn by Bob Oksner.
Inside Woody Allen, a gag-a-day comic (1976–1984) about comedian and film director Woody Allen, written by David Weinberger (among others) and drawn by Stuart Hample.
Jay Leno Meets Spider-Man, a 2002 one-shot comic book featuring a cross-over between comedian Jay Leno and the comic book character Spider-Man, written by David Michelinie, drawn by Erik Larsen and Mike Machlan.
Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp, a humor comic (1971-1973) based on the children's TV series Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp. The artist and writer are unknown.
Late Night of the Superstars, a 1983 one-shot cross-over between TV presenter David Letterman and The Avengers, written by Roger Stern, drawn by Al Milgrom and Joe Sinnott.
Live From New-York, it's Saturday Night!, a 1978 cross-over between the cast of the TV show Saturday Night Live and comic book character Spider-Man, written by Bob Hall, drawn by Chris Claremont.
Mr. T, an action comic about the famous TV actor Mr. T. (See main article Mr. T).
Mortimer and Charlie (1939-1940) by Ben Batsford and Carl Buettner and Charlie McCarthy (1947-1954) by Harvey Eisenberg, two gag-a-day comics both based on the puppet characters Mortimer Snerd and Charlie McCarthy by ventriloquist Edgar Bergen.
My Friend Irma, a humor comic (1950–1955) based on the radio sitcom My Friend Irma, created by Jack Seidel, Stan Lee and Dan DeCarlo.
Outsiders: Wanted, a 2004 one-shot comic book featuring a cross-over between TV actor John Walsh and the comics characters The Outsiders., written by Judd Winick, drawn by Dan Jurgens, Carlos D'Anda, Karl Kerschl and Shawn Moll.
The Partridge Family, a comic book series (1971-1973) based on the popular family sitcom The Partridge Family, drawn by Don Sherwood.
Rugrats, a comic strip and book series based on the TV series Rugrats. Written and drawn by committee from 1998 to 2003.
Spidey Meets the President!, a 2009 Marvel Comics special written by Zeb Wells and drawn by Todd Nauck and Frank D'Armata, for the occasion of Barack Obama's inauguration as the President of the United States.
Star Trek, comics based on the popular TV show Star Trek. Drawn and written by various artists since 1966.
Superman vs. Muhammad Ali, a 1978 comic book where Superman has a cross-over with boxing champion Muhammad Ali, written by Dennis O'Neil and drawn by Neal Adams.
TMNT Amazing Adventures: Carmelo Anthony Special (2016), a celebrity special story for the Amazing Adventures comic books of the 2012 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV series, featuring basketball player Carmelo Anthony.
The Twilight Zone, a 1961-1982 horror and mystery comics series based on the TV series The Twilight Zone, written and rawn by a variety of artists, including Jack Sparling, Reed Crandall, Lee Elias, George Evans, Russ Jones, Joe Orlando, Jerry Robinson, Mike Sekowsky, Dan Spiegle, Frank Thorne, and Alex Toth.
Undertaker, a comic book (1999–2000) based on professional wrestler The Undertaker, written by Beau Smith, drawn by Manny Clark.
The Weather, a humor/weather forecast comic (1909–1913) starring local Seattleite Robert W. Patten, drawn by John Hager.
Wild Man Fischer, a humor comic (1993) about folk singer Wild Man Fischer, drawn and written by J.R. Williams in the Real Stuff series.
WWE Heroes, a comics franchise based on professional wrestling stars.